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J Lipid Res. 1990 Oct;31(10):1873-82.

Effects on plasma lipoproteins of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet of African green monkeys.

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Department of Biochemistry, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27103.


Work by other investigators has shown that an increase in dietary content of monounsaturated fatty acids can result in a decreased plasma low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration. This observation, combined with the epidemiologic evidence that monounsaturated fat-rich diets are associated with decreased rates of death from coronary heart disease, suggests that inclusion of increased amounts of mono-unsaturated fat in the diet may be beneficial. The present study was carried out in a primate model, the African green monkey, to evaluate the effects of dietary monounsaturated fat on plasma lipoprotein cholesterol endpoints. Two study periods were carried out in which the fatty acid compositions of the experimental diets were varied. All diets contained 35% of calories as fat. In the first experimental period, a mixture of fats was used to set the dietary fatty acid composition to be approximately 50-60% of the desired fatty acid, either saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated (n-6). In the second experimental period, pure fats were used (palm oil, oleic acid-rich safflower oil, and linoleic acid-rich safflower oil) to maximize the difference in fatty acid composition. The effects of the more exaggerated dietary fatty acid differences of period 2 were similar to those that have been reported in humans. For the group fed the diet enriched in monounsaturated fat compared to saturated fat, whole plasma and LDL cholesterol concentrations were significantly lower while high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentrations were not affected. For the group fed the diet enriched in polyunsaturated fat compared to saturated fat, both LDL and HDL cholesterol concentrations were significantly lower than in the group fed saturated fat. LDL cholesterol concentrations were comparable in the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat groups and the percentage of cholesterol in LDL was lowest in the monounsaturated fat fed group. Trends were similar for the mixed fat diets, although no statistically significant differences in plasma lipoprotein endpoints could be attributed to monounsaturated fatty acids in this dietary comparison. Since effects on plasma lipoproteins similar to those seen in humans were identified in this primate model, relevant mechanisms for the effects of dietary fatty acids on lipoprotein endpoints related to coronary artery atherosclerosis, per se, can subsequently be examined.

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